The one-hundred and twenty-third installment in the “Die Hard”
disenfranchise, A Good Day to Die Hard, crashed its way into a February release and quickly fizzled, revealing a dud with a short fuse and far less explosiveness than previous installments. If you’re desperate for a theater fix it’s watchable, but don’t expect to be high-fiving and air guitar-ing on the way out like you (or your parents did) after seeing Die Hard circa ’88.
The thinly sustainable plot follows old man John McClane (Bruce Willis) heading over to Russia to try and bring back his son Jack (Jai Courtney) who he believes is a “bad guy.” After messing up Jack’s undercover CIA mission, the two must reluctantly pair together on a wild goose chase to protect state witness Komarov (Sebastian Koch) from Russian baddies trying to get a key or something simil;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; sorry I fell asleep there for a second. The plot is cookie cutter schlock, but there’s some pretty sweet car chases for about a half hour, and then some shooting, and oh look a helicopter! Oh… another helicopter… Oh, I see what they’re going for here. Some co-producer really thought “helicopters” were going to be the thing for 2013 in a pitch meeting.
Unlike previous “Die Hards,” A Good Day To Die Hard fell short in the laughter department. It was kind of like watching a sad old comedian trying to make a come-back twenty-five years past their glory days and re-hashing the same old jokes. Some variation of “I’m on vacation” made up about 60 percent of the punch-lines, which I found surprising considering there was never a “vacation” set up. It felt like a scene which set up all of Willis’s jokes hit the cutting room floor and nobody noticed. Perhaps like-
INT. POLICE CHIEFS OFFICE – MORNING
JOHN MCCLANE sits across from the POLICE CHIEF.
I know I’ve not taken a vacation in years, I figured it was a good time to start slowing down. Enjoying, er, the trees… and the birds.
In Russia? This wouldn’t be about your son, would it?
‘Course not, I just always wanted to see the uh… Red Circle.
The POLICE CHIEF crosses his arms at MCCLANE.
On a Tuesday? In December?
MCCLANE nods sheepishly.
John, there’s just no way you’re going on vacation and that’s final.
And of course, directly following this is the obligatory (and clichéd as hell) “CUT TO McClane in Moscow” moment, exemplifying the quintessential 1980s ineffectual police chief.
Even the new jokes were just re-mixed versions of familiar ones, and sometimes I found myself snickering just out of pity. Bruce Willis is usually good for a few laughs, but the material that screenwriter Skip Woods (The A-Team, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Swordfish) kept spoon-feeding to the aging action star did nothing to utilize Willis’s rough-cut wit. Even worse were the efforts of the laughably un-funny Jai Courtney, who looked great in his tight t-shirts but couldn’t elicit a laugh if a gun was pointed at his perfect pectorals.
Where the movie succeeded shouldn’t surprise anyone, the action sequences were pretty fun with plenty of faceless baddies for McClane to shoot and curse at. An early car chase takes up the bulk of Act One, but was surprisingly exciting in it’s execution. John McClane’s comedic/action improv style made for some thrilling twist, turns, and burnouts. Some of the later sequences were predictable, but offered a bit of relief from the cheesy “on the nose” dialogue that ruined any chance of the actors having on-screen chemistry. All of the relationships were forced, and I never got a chance to build any empathy for the characters before they were blowing each other up.
This latest installment is an empty bullet shell of it’s former self. I suppose A Good Day To Die Hard had to have some kind of theatrical release so that it could make its way into a market where it belongs, cable television distribution. I can envision this movie playing on FX in a couple of years with limited commercial interruption and promoting yet another in the series with Jai Courtney at the helm, aptly titled: Oh Crap, Another Die Hard.